The Log College Project - Princeton Theological Seminary

The Log College Project


This project is an innovative initiative to help congregations design, test, and implement new models of youth ministry integrating youth ages 12-18.

Under the leadership of Rev. Abigail Rusert, Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry, this project is called The Log College Project in honor of the first Presbyterian seminary.

With a goal to develop alternatives to the dominant model for youth ministry that has lasted more than 100 years (gathering young people together in an age-specific cohort), the project argues that this has been a model that tends to separate youth from the life of the congregation and is often cost-prohibitive for congregations without significant financial resources.

The Log College Project helps congregations innovate ministry programs that integrate young people into the life of the church and entrust them with God’s work in their local community. Project goals include building a ministry program with an intergenerational team that integrates teenagers as leaders and developing a peer learning community that provides a culture of theologically informed innovation/experimentation.

Out of 200+ applicants, 53 churches were selected to form Communities of Practice and develop Design Teams and ideas for their new youth ministry program. Twelve were selected to receive an implementation grant. The remaining 41 churches continued with support from the project in all respects but without additional funds. After a year of work under design consultant Matryoshka Haus, two representatives from each church came to the Princeton Theological Seminary campus to share their progress in a 2019 Design Lab and attend the IYM Forum on Youth Ministry.

A digital course was offered in each of the first two years for all participating churches. In 2018, Prof. Eric Barreto taught “Biblical Foundations for Innovation in Youth Ministry;” in 2019, that became “Theological Foundations for Innovation in Youth Ministry,” taught by Prof. Kenda Dean.

With societies in turmoil, the year dealing with the pandemic has revealed that 81% of young people’s spiritual practices are now rooted in service and justice — the result of the international reawakening to movements for racial justice. Faced with changed environments near the grant’s conclusion, the project will now run for an additional year while the project team evaluates the impact of stress and isolation on youth in church programs, the digital over-scheduling caused by virtual academic education and the inability for youth in church programs to assemble except by digital means. The range of the project’s results, positive impacts, and challenges will be fully evaluated in light of the team’s findings in the final year.

National distribution of participants includes congregations in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Denomination included are AME, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Methodist, as well as a community church, Iglesia Cristiana, and a NextGen Church.